Photo Credit: Kelli Stirrett
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At the end of life, the number one regret for many people is that they did not pursue their dreams.
Bronnie Ware a Palliative nurse wrote a book about her dying
patients and the top five things she heard people say that they regretted as
they neared death. Not pursuing a dream consistently topped the list.
Of course, there are the practical realities of when to go after
your dream. I know in my own life I wanted to make sure my family was taken
care of before focusing on the personal dream that resided deep down in my
heart. I did not pursue my dream fully until there was no longer a values conflict.
Going after a dream does not mean leaving the people behind that you love the most. That’s the other side of the coin and one of the top five regrets especially for men at the end of their lives, they worked too much and missed out on family life. If you lose your family over the pursuit of a dream, the way you pursued your dream was wrong.
For decades, I worked hard and sought excellence in my profession. However, I knew something was missing. Deep down I always wanted to coach more full time.
Coaching did not pay the bills so I served as a volunteer coach
for individual athletes as a sideline activity when I could fit it in with family and work. I was the primary breadwinner so that far outweighed
going for a dream that did not pay the bills. I did not pursue my dream fully
but I still found satisfaction in helping at least a few people along my
journey run to their potential.
Somehow though, I knew deep down inside that I would finish the last chapters of life coaching many athletes on a daily basis when family responsibilities were less and I was retired from my professions. Coaching teams makes me come alive. However, it was a dream that needed to wait until the last chapters of life because of other more important life priorities.
There are some dreams that can’t wait until the last chapters of life, however. If you want to become a pro athlete for example you have to go for it when you are young. There is no chance of reaching this dream when you are old. If you want to try to qualify to run in the Olympic Trials, you have to go for it when you are young. If you want to run in college, you have to go for it now.
Take an honest look at the tradeoffs of going for dreams and
definitely pray about whether or not to go for them or not.
I say you go for a big dream like a professional sports career or running in the Olympic trials if it does not cause another major priority area of your life to stumble. Maybe its time for you to qualify for Boston or do that ultra you've been putting off.
Pursuing something like a professional sports career is a big risk but it is one of those things you’ll likely regret if you don’t go for it, assuming you have the raw talent to make this dream a reality.
No one can tell you precisely when to go after your dream or
goal. I certainly can't tell you the best timing nor can anyone else. You'll have to decide that for yourself. I do know that going after any dream requires commitment, dedication, a purpose greater than self, and an unwavering
grit to make it to the top of the mountain.
You must assess the tradeoffs of your dream and make sure that
going after your dream does not become the top regret of your life either. If
on the other hand, your dream is in alignment with your values, I say
go for your dream while you are young! You don’t want to look back in the rearview mirror of life and
say, “what if” or "if only".
At the end of the day, you have to discern God’s will for your
life. Listen for that the still small voice.
for prayer and reflection
1. At the end of my life, will I regret not pursuing the dream that
God placed in my heart?
2. What is the timing of my dream? Can my dream wait or is it
something I have to do now while I am young?
3. Will I look back and say, ‘What if”, if I don’t pursue my dream?
4. Does going after my dream conflict with more important values?
If your dream does not conflict with other important values then it is probably time to come out of the dreams starting blocks!
Read Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:13, and
Philippians 4:6 for more information about pursuing your dreams.
Photo Credit: Nicolas Hoizey